10 Ways to Avoid Complications During Pregnancy

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Disclaimer: This article was submitted by a third-party resource. You can view the original article on their website here: Have a Well-Informed Pregnancy: 10 Ways to Avoid Complications During Pregnancy.

Women who are pregnant deserve quality care and non-judgmental support throughout all three trimesters. They should also care for themselves mentally and physically to promote their and the baby’s health.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Follow these steps and choose an experienced, qualified doctor you feel comfortable talking to and who talks openly with you. This can help you have a happier, healthier pregnancy.

1. Conduct Research to Find a Qualified Health Care Provider

Talk to friends, family, and your primary care doctor to help find the right OB-GYN, and follow up on their suggestions with your own research. You can use online ratings for doctors and look at any testimonials or reviews on their websites. You can also take advantage of state resources to help you choose.

Also, meet with prospective doctors to see if you are a good fit. Good communication in both directions is essential to the health of you and your baby, as you must rely on your doctor for advice and feel comfortable asking questions throughout your pregnancy. We believe it is important to feel comfortable with your physician and their staff.

2. Get Regular Prenatal Check-Ups

Regular prenatal check-ups are critical for the prevention of birth injury and other complications. Understanding what happens at prenatal checkups at each stage of your pregnancy helps prepare you for visits and ask the right questions of your doctor.

FIRST TRIMESTER PRENATAL CHECK-UPS

Choose your doctor and schedule your first visit as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Your prenatal care in the first trimester starts with bloodwork, a Pap smear, and cultures to check for infections or other problems. Your doctor will ask questions about your overall health, family history, and risk factors.

You will also begin discussing proper diet and nutrition and potential problems such as fatigue, heartburn, varicose veins, morning sickness, and other common pregnancy symptoms. Knowing these symptoms and how often they should occur can help tell you when something seems wrong.

SECOND TRIMESTER PRENATAL CHECK-UPS

Your second-trimester prenatal care includes monthly prenatal appointments. Talk to your doctor again about your symptoms, including the onset of back or other pain.

Your doctor will weigh you, check your blood pressure, and measure your abdomen. You should talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your health in case it can affect your baby.

About 20 weeks in, you’ll have an ultrasound, blood testing, and genetic testing. These help detect problems such as abnormalities or potential genetics-related health issues.

THIRD TRIMESTER PRENATAL CHECK-UPS

Your third-trimester prenatal care visits are generally every two weeks until your doctor recommends weekly visits. You will have continued blood pressure, weight, and other monitoring, plus a test for group B strep infection. Your doctor will also check your baby’s movement, and you can help by tracking them between visits.

Talk to your OB-GYN about your concerns if you feel you are not getting proper prenatal care. Babies of mothers who do not get good prenatal care are five times more likely to pass away and three times more likely to have a low birth weight. Regular prenatal care allows your doctor to intervene quickly when there are problems. You can additionally utilize Align’s prenatal education classes to learn about topics such as bonding with your preborn babydealing with pregnancy emotions, and much more!

3. Follow Health Care Provider Nutrition, Weight Gain, and Exercise Recommendations

Your weight gain recommendations during pregnancy depend on your body weight and body mass index before pregnancy and whether you have one or multiple babies. Following recommendations is important because too little weight gain is associated with undersized babies, and too much weight gain can lead to heavy babies, delivery complications, and cesarean delivery.

Talk to your doctor about your caloric needs in each trimester to avoid a high-risk pregnancy. Typically, you don’t need extra calories in the first trimester, but you need about 340 additional in the second and about 450 in the third.

You should get about 30 minutes daily or 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise during pregnancy. Always talk to your doctor about your exercise routine, and be sure to stay well-hydrated and pay attention to how you feel.

4. Choose a Healthy Diet and Supplements Your Baby Needs

It is critical to protect you and your baby throughout your pregnancy by eating healthy. Limit sugar and solid fat intake and eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

Keep a food journal to help you track your intake, and share it with your doctor, who may make specific dietary suggestions as you advance in your pregnancy. For example, they might recommend more seafood with healthy fats but low in mercury. They will also warn you of certain foods, such as raw meat, fish or eggs, high-sodium foods, and raw sprouts.

Part of good nutrition during pregnancy involves taking prenatal vitamins and other supplements your doctor recommends. Prenatal supplements help you get critical vitamins, such as calcium, iron, iodine, and folic acid. Failure to take prenatal vitamins can result in neural tube defects, hypertension, preeclampsia, poor bone development, and other problems.

5. Avoid Certain Over-the-Counter Drugs

It can be challenging to sort out the advice you receive about over-the-counter medications, so listen to your doctor. There is often not enough research to come to clear conclusions because of the ethical concerns involved in experimentation with pregnant women and fetuses. However, there are some drugs with a significant amount of evidence about their chance for harm.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists warns against the use of the antihistamine pseudoephedrine during the first three months of pregnancy. The drug has been linked to a risk of abdominal wall congenital disabilities.

The FDA warns against using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, from about the 20th week of pregnancy. Using them can lead to low levels of amniotic fluid or kidney problems and other complications.

There is a lot of information and misinformation about using over-the-counter drugs during pregnancy. Avoid those with sufficient warnings, and talk to your doctor about others before you take them.

6. Get Gestational Diabetes Screening

Women who do not produce enough insulin when they are pregnant may develop gestational diabetes. It affects about two to 10 percent of pregnancies, and managing it is critical. Gestational diabetes can lead to increased blood pressure during pregnancy, a complicated or premature delivery, low blood sugar, and a risk of the baby developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Some of the risk factors for gestational diabetes include previous diabetes diagnoses during pregnancy, a previous birth over nine pounds, being overweight, and a family history of type 2 diabetes. Women with gestational diabetes don’t typically show any symptoms. You can try to prevent gestational diabetes before becoming pregnant by losing weight but don’t do so if you are already pregnant. Talk to your doctor about how much weight gain is enough but not too much to keep you and your baby healthy.

Your doctor should start testing you for the condition around the 24th week of pregnancy.

7. Manage Chronic Conditions

Some chronic conditions cause riskier pregnancies, and it’s critical that you properly monitor and manage them. Some maternal chronic conditions that cause high-risk pregnancies include the following:

  • High blood pressure raises the risk of maternal kidney damage, preeclampsia, and low birth weight. If you have high blood pressure, be sure your doctor checks it at every prenatal visit.
  • Diabetes increases the risk of large baby size and low blood sugar in the baby. High maternal blood sugar in the first few weeks can lead to congenital disabilities, so if you want to avoid a high-risk pregnancy, monitor yourself regularly. Your doctor will help you manage your diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Kidney disease in expectant mothers can lead to miscarriages, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and preeclampsia. Pregnant women with kidney disease must see their doctors more often and closely follow diet, medication, and treatment regimens.
  • Obesity is associated with higher risks of sleep apnea, gestational diabetes, and increased birth size. Maternal obesity before pregnancy can lead to heart problems for the baby. Listen to your doctor’s advice about weight gain during your pregnancy to try and reduce the risks of pregnancy complications.
  • Thyroid disease can lead to problems for the fetus, such as poor weight gain, heart failure, and brain development problems. Your doctor may recommend medications or surgery if you have an underactive or overactive thyroid and become pregnant.

8. Take Care of Your Emotional and Mental Health and Reduce Stress

Poor stress management, inadequate coping mechanisms, high blood pressure, and other related factors can negatively affect fetal development and the mother’s health. Women who experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy are at risk of suicide, overdose, poisoning, and mental health-related unintentional injuries.

Untreated depression and anxiety during pregnancy can also cause women to skip prenatal care, use drugs or alcohol, and fail to attach properly to their babies. Understand that mental health problems are not your fault. Depression and anxiety are illnesses, and women who have them and other mental health disorders deserve treatment, not judgment.

You can take steps to help yourself relax during pregnancy, such as going for walks, cooking new, healthy dishes, or spending time with friends. It is easy to stop doing these things when you become pregnant, but re-engaging can help with your mental health.

You can also talk to family members, your partner, or a therapist. If you need additional help, the Department of Health and Human Services offers a maternal mental health line at 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262). Never be afraid to reach out for help.

9. Stay Active

You can boost your mood, sharpen your focus, reduce stress, and improve your sleep by staying active during pregnancy. Listen to your body if it tells you to slow down, and talk to your OB-GYN during prenatal visits to discuss your routine.

There are prenatal workouts for each trimester of pregnancy. Walking is a good exercise for pregnant women, though you may have to slow from a brisk walk to a slower pace as your pregnancy progresses. Swimming is an excellent exercise during all three trimesters of pregnancy, and just being in the water will help remove some of the pressure of the baby’s weight.

Talk to your OB-GYN about types of strength exercises that are safe. They may recommend specific exercises, such as back muscle strengthening or prenatal yoga, to fit your needs. Do not engage in any contact sports or exercises that involve lying on your back once you reach your second trimester.

10. Learn About Pain Management During Labor

Labor can be very painful, and while some mothers choose natural childbirth, you may decide to use medication to manage your pain. There are some side effects and potential risks of pain mitigation.

Your doctor may administer an epidural injection in your back to block pain in certain parts of your body. There is a risk of possible complications and some serious risks, but generally, epidurals are safe. Possible complications include low blood pressure, itchy skin, headaches, and, in very rare cases, blood clots, infection, and nerve damage.

Other medications your doctor may approve for pain management during labor include analgesics such as opioids through a shot or IV, nitrous oxide, and local or general anesthesia.

Regardless of your type of pain management, your doctor, anesthesiologist, or other health care professionals must monitor you closely to watch for side effects and act quickly if you or your baby are in distress.

Utilize Align Pregnancy Services

For further pregnancy support, utilize Align’s variety of pregnancy-related services. We have four service locations and would love to support you through your pregnancy. Contact us today!

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